Monday, December 3, 2007


I am sorry for such a long hiatus. I have been in the middle of trying research. Also, my plants have all suffered from the winds, the brief flood, and now the dry winds again. Along with spidermites! >:(

So I have been forced to put my garden to the back-burner.

In all apologies, here is a little story from me to you.

Enjoy and happy holidays.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's October and it is summer.

I apologize whole heartedly for the extreme lapse of time. Things here in southern california have been somewhat hectic. I'm sure all of you know about the raging fire that has been burning about one third of the landscape.

It has been snowing ash over the last week. When I walk outside, I expect to see zombies creeping into the streets. The sun and moon have been bright orange from the smoke's filter. the air quality has been so bad that its like having free cigarettes all the time. No, not fun.

It has also been ridiculously hot. This is inexplainable. I've always remembered halloween to be cold to the point of dampening my halloween costume. This year however, was too hot. Yesterday was about 98 degrees, the nights are about 77 degrees. This time of year is supposed to be cold enough for a scarf. I have been wearing summer dresses.

This could be due to the santa ana winds which have driven this fire, but it just does not feel right.

But speaking of warm autumns and mild winters, Southern California is great for some plants. I think only here can you grow strawberries in winter.

Strawberries are natives to this area. And with a little water and some crushed eggshells, strawberry plants will brighten up your morning.

Attack of the giant strawberry! The hippo doesn't seem scared. In fact, he looks hungry!

I have begun to plant some in front of my store as well. We gave the store front a nice coat of paint, accentuating the original brick pillars. Soon, i plan to plant more edible plants when i get the time.

Are any of you planting lettuce? Kale? Now is the time! Plant away and have some nice winter varieties to even out your dinners! Lets see some pictures!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

sad day :(

Today is the saddest day in a very long time.

The santa ana winds came with fury, and 90% of my leafy plants are thrashed to death.

to be continued.

Monday, October 15, 2007

negative ions make for happy plants and people.

today is nice and cloudy. it makes me happy. it also makes a lot of other people happy. The reason for this is the abundance of negative ions in the air.

During hot dry times, such as the santa ana winds, there is an overabundance of positively charged ions. This makes allergens and dust particles as light as the air. It is hard for people to breathe, and also disrupts the constant flow of serotonin in one's brain. In los angeles, the murder rate spikes during the santa ana winds. It is the wind of crazies.

With negative ions however, the dust and allergens become kind of "magnetically" charged, and sticks to the negative ions. This causes them to fall, and clears out the air. For some reason, it also slows down and regulates the serotonin, and pacifies people. People become calm, contemplative, and content. Think of foggy airports.

Elevated levels of serotonin increase dream activity and habilitates easy thinking. These levels of serotonin can be increased with the presence of negative ion generators.

My plan: I will build 2 ion generators, one which generates only positive ions, and one which generates only negative ions. I will somehow contain each generator in some kind of room with plants. Of course, i will need a control plant which exists outside the contained areas.

Here is my dilemma: i would have to construct an airtight container. Because i have little space and materials, i was thinking about using fans, a ventilation hole, and large, clear trashbags. This would create a space of high humidity. Ions are naturally negatively charged by mist, often occurring near beaches or lakes. How will i be able to create a positively charged area within a breeding ground of humidity? Will the positive ion converter dry out the space? Or will i need to use more generators to get back to regular outdoor conditions? Should i just scrap the idea of constructing a contained air-tight area?

Interesting stuff i found during research:

Serotonin concentrations of 3 - 30 mg/kg have been found in plantain, pineapple, banana, kiwifruit, plums, and tomatoes. -From Wikipedia's search of seratonin.

The quinones and melanins derived from dopamine may help protect damaged fruit and vegetables against growth of bacteria and fungi. -Mayer, AM (2006). "Polyphenol oxidases in plants and fungi: Going places? A review". Phytochemistry 67: 2318-2331. PMID 16973188

using lie detectors to measure telepathy in plants.
Cleve Backster

Dancing telegraph plants

these plants respond to the vibration of music and will start dancing.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Blog Carnival!!!! and some good winter veggies

The Balcony Garden is doing a Blog Carnival! If you are a garden blog, send Balcony Garden a link to your favorite post. I believe you should post in the comment box. Read more here for further instructions.

This is a great way to spend the down season, although there are still some great things you can plant.

Here's a quick list of things you can still plant:

Fava beans- High in protein and fiber. Great with pita bread. One of Ryan's favorites.
Beets- Beautiful color and taste. Great to color up any winter dish. Try a chilled beet borscht.
Kale- also has an ornamental version with deep purples. This is will be a beautiful edition to any garden.
Kohlrabi- a kind of cabbage. Wikipedia says it is "sputnik in shape". How can you not grow these?
Bunching Onions
Roquette- a somewhat wild plant, great in winter salads for its peppery taste. Think arugula. high in vitamin C and iron.
Rutabagas- pie anyone?
Swiss Chard
Turnips- a little bit of heat for the cold winter.
Winter Zucchini- hearts to infinity! try a pureed potato, onion, zucchini, and pear soup. garnish with mint! try warm or chilled!

it is windy and i am sad

Disaster has struck in my garden.
Poor plants, ripped apart and broken from the stems.

my nose is in a constant leak from all the blowing allergens.

i have a theory that it is mostly cat dander, blowing around into my nose.
riverside is a working class town, and with little room in an apartment dwelling town, cats are easy and cheaper to maintain than a dog.

cats are more self sustainable than the needy dog, and my eyeball sockets are oozing mucus.

i'll try to post some pictures of my fallen friends later.

how are all of your plants doing?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Free plants by mail.

Here is the giveaway!

I am giving away the clones of this plant:

This plant likes full sun. good indoor plant during the cold season. Great velociraptor markings on outer parts of leaves. watch it clone as well! the edges of the leaves curl up and look like toothy jaws. in short- this plant is the species awesome jawsome.

Email me at with your address. i promise i am not a weirdo stalker. a PO box will work great too. postage free, especially if you send me something in return.

A note to alaska: please take advantage of this great offer. i know i can bike to your house, but a plant by mail is so much fun.

A note to eli: this will make a perfect pet for you and jessica.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

sorry for the lapse

I have been greatly pressed for time lately. I have decided to take some life enriching classes at the community college. I also got in a bike wreck, completely my fault. i was being unsafe and silly. i have abrasions on my hands, lots of bruises, and a good shiner near my eye that will fetch me fifty points of street cred- wut wut?

i have been concentrating more on math, painting my kitchen, hanging out with good friends, letting the pavement kick my ass, and working on some art projects in the mean time. However, i promise to post something soon.

Usually when i have nothing to write about, i opt for the always good dinner recipes and the amazing link to something fantastic. keep in mind my left hand is throbbing with pain so it is hard for me to type. ok. here we go.

Amazing Dinner!!! Broccoli+Beets=<3

1. in a large skillet, brown some finely chopped garlic in some margarine.

2. throw in some florets of broccoli (one big tree) and a couple of diced beets.
you'll know when it's ready when the broccoli has shrunk and wilted. another good indication of it's readiness is when you burn the inside of your mouth with a good firm, but not hard, cube of delicious beet.

3. pour on some balsamic vinegar. about an eighth of a cup should do, depending on your taste.

4. drizzle on some extra virgen olive oil. and salt&pepper to taste.

serves 2-3.

Try this dish with some angel hair pasta. Or tortellini!

The reason why this is so good is because the broccoli florets soak up all the flavors. The beets add a subtle sweet taste and a divine color. This combination creates a very light late dinner, something that does not overwhelm. Try it with a shiraz. another perk to this dish is that it takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare start to finish.

Did i mention broccoli and beets are both amazing power foods exploding with vitamins?

oh yea, and the beet was once considered to be the devil's bleeding heart. how can you not like beets?

amazing link! architects from the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) design green homes that make me love

This one is my favorite, with some awesome pictures. a must see, i promise.
click here --> Dezeen

Saturday, September 1, 2007

urbanizing space, from the development firms to everyday gardens.

Yesterday I went to LA to visit my mother and my best friend. On the way, NPR was broadcasting a roundtable discussion between a representative from an urban development firm, the deputy mayor of LA, and a resident of the Simi Valley area concerning the application of sales tax revenue which funds public works such as roads, water, libraries, post offices, etc.

In large populated cities where public services are more needed, space is limited. A huge Walmart or Costco is definitely out of the picture. Development firms are becoming wiser and trying to maximize small urban spaces by building up, instead of the outward sprawl they're used to doing in the past.

They call this urbanizing space.

I am a big fan of upward spreading. When I was little, I imagined a mansion to be a tall slim tower opposed to a huge sprawl. Growing up in LA, I thought the only way to build my future mansion was up, not out.

Malibu Mansion:

My Mansion:

I kid you not, this was the drawing I had spent hours and days drawing over and over again.

Well anyway, while I was listening to the NPR program, I started to think about upward spreading. Here in Riverside (Urban Sprawl, USA), much of the buildings are short, low to the ground, and a huge waste of space. (I have not ridden an elevator for about 3 years now.) The city is remodeling the Downtown Library by expanding out. When I heard these plans, I was saddened because there is a nice lawn in front of the library. The new plans would expand the front of the building out to the street, eliminating the lawn, the trees, and the nice benches. I wonder why they can't build up, instead of out.

I also started to think about my garden. With it's limited space, I am now starting to run out of space. I have been throwing plants together in sharing containers, but I would really like to have another raised box to grow more stuff. So I started thinking what if my garden was like a high-rise apartment? That would surely work. Better yet, I began to think about plants themselves, and how they structure themselves to be the most efficient at gathering sunlight. What if we could imitate them and appropriate nature's mathematical designs? There has to be a reason why plants evolved over millions of years, why not adopt some of their lessons?

This plant has been featured several times before. Can you tell this is one of my favorites? When you look at it from a bird's eye view, the leaves whorl around the stem in order to achieve maximum sunlight. When you draw radians through the leaves, you come across this formation:

I assumed this famous trigonometric diagram... a schematic for an urbanized planter:

And upon rendering, the planter would look something like this:

This is really interesting to me. I will try to work out some more designs for planters.

Friday, August 24, 2007

4 simple steps to become 22% greener.

Its hard to do a major overhaul of the way you do things but luckily for you, being green is easy as banana creme pie. Plus, it will save you lots of money that you could use for a vegetable garden.

1. Gas is expensive. Find other means of transportation.
Get a bike to travel locally. You don't have to give up your car, just use it less. Plus, you will be more healthy, maybe loose a little weight, eat less, buy less, look better. Public trans is green. Green is cheap. Green is sexy. Be green, get laid.

2. Food is expensive. Opt for fresh vegetables and fruits in season.
Vegetables are cheap- Way cheaper than those microwave boxes, cheaper than eating out. Vegetables are healthy. In the long run, if you eat five a day, you will save on health costs. Think towards the future. Instant gratification is way overrated. If you eat more veggies, you will be more healthy, you will have more energy, your body will become more efficient. Become a green machine. You will want to walk more, or ride your bike with greater ease. With vegetables, there is also little waste. No big boxes, no plastic packaging. Easy as pie. Rhubarb pie.
Want to know whats in season and when? Check out these links. Or find your own.
Food Network's seasonal chart
Nutritiously Gormet Seasonal Calander

3. Bottled Water is expensive. and stupid. Stop buying bottled water.
Tap water is extremely underrated. Trust me. Add some ice, maybe a lemon, try a few mint leaves- it's fantastic! But if you are finicky, opt for a Brita or other kind of water purifier. Re-fill and re-use your plastic bottles. Not only is plastic a huge landfill problem, it is also ridiculously expensive. People used to make fun of buying water. But clever advertising has programed us to think its not stupid at all. Trust me, it's stupid.

4. Ephemeral fashion is expensive. Instead of buying shoes and clothes every other day, spend money on an urban garden.
Grow mint, basil, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, peppers, squash, etc. Not only are they pretty and tasty, think of it as an investment. Home grown foods taste so much better than your large-chain-grocer's because they are fresh. There's no scary chemicals in them either. The supermarkets also make a lot of emissions from transporting the produce from far away. Think it's a waste of water? What about your lavish lawns? Get rid of it and grow a veggie garden. Click this to go to the Edible Estates website to see how it's done. If you can eat what you grow, you spend less on food. See number 2 above. With all the excess money from not shopping a lot, plan fun pot luck with all your friends. Become happy so you don't have to fill the void with shopping all time. Opt for the thrift stores and cheap vintage stores. By doing so, you won't be supporting exploitative labor either.


If you don't think these are awesome as hell, you're not human.

These are tomatillo plants. I'm still expecting them to light up any moment now.

Guerilla Gardening: Seed Bombs

Have you seen me?

Hello, I am an empty lot. I exist in your neighborhood. I'm just a big patch of dirt and some trash. I make my neighbors feel uneasy and sad. No one likes me and it makes me sad too. All over, it is a lose-lose situation.

But maybe you can help me? All I need are some seed bombs. They're cheap and easy to make. And if you do it right, they are completely self automated and great for the environment. They will be a sight for sore eyes and they will make everyone happy. Especially the butterflies.

Seed Bombs Ingredients
1) powdered clay
2) worm castings
3) wildflower seeds indigenous to the area
4) water
5) mixing container
6) stick

How to Make a Seed Bomb
1) mix 5pt powder clay, 5pt worm castings, 1pt seeds in a mixing container.
2) add just enough water to make a nice muddy clay consistency
3) roll up the mixture into little balls like gum balls
4) let dry in a cool dry place for like 3 days
5) throw them in empty fields.

The middle bomb is a great size.

How they Work
A seed bomb is a little capsule with everything you need to grow a plant all bundled up. The clay has lots of root-encouraging nutrients. The Worm Castings will give the seeds a nice fertilizer, good for land that hasn't been cultivated or worked on for a while. The indigenous seeds are custom made for your area. They will know how to grow given the conditions.

Now all they need is a nice rain. The perfect time to throw these is right before a light rainy season. The rain will melt the clay to expose the seeds, and your seed bombs will grow.

We had a seed bomb workshop in November. We used California Poppy seeds. Unfortunately there was no rain this year, so we have a whole bunch saved for this fall.

Now it's your turn. Make seed bombs. Invite your friends. Make your city greener.


Check out these awesome people!

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I've got a bike you can try it if you like

I usually ride my bike around town. Its the most efficient way to get around, and it's sooooooo much fun.
Look smart as you steer those streets.

The biggest argument about riding you bike is that it's too hot. Not true. Because the bicycle is so efficient, you are using up less energy than walking. With the steady stream of wind in your locks, it is as if mother nature has her AC on.

Go to the market. Go to the library. Go to work. Go throw your seed bombs into empty lots. Go get drunk. Yes, you can also ride your bike to the local pub. It's fun to bike tipsy, I swear. Fun time happy time.

Oh, so you want a bike? Very well. Here are your options:

Mountain Bike

These bikes are super fancy. They have nice breaks, nice shocks (do you need crazy shocks like these?), super fatty tires with which you can over-run a mole with sharp teeth. If you're commuting around town, this might not be so necessary.

Hybrid Bike

These bikes are a hybrid of the mountain bike and the road bike. This is very suitable for commuting around for the local grocer, etc. They are comfy, have gears for city slopes, and are very practical. The best thing about these is the upright seating position.

Road Bike

These bikes are the ones with the super skinny tires. This bike will zip you to your destination. They are fun, fast, sleek and wonderful. But careful when you see glass on the street. And road bikes are just for roads. No dirt, bumpy terrain, especially no gravel. Stick a rack on the back, and you're set to go. Zoom past cars on the street, smooth riding to the bar. Con: you better know how to fix a flat, you're going to be bent over while you ride.

Little BMX bikes

These bikes look like your 8 year old little brother's bike. They take 50 pedal rotations to move a wheel 3.14 feet. Not so awesome, but your street cred will skyrocket with the 14 year olds down the block.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No End In Sight

I strongly recommend everyone to seek out this documentary.

It is not fun. It is enraging, shocking, devastating and heart wrenching. But I feel it is necessary to watch.

I just watched it tonight and I am deeply disturbed and thankful to have seen it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Attack of the Cute Adorable Crunchy Yummy Babies!

Look at these cute crunchy yummy babies!!!

E.Fong Tomato

Baby Burpless Cucumber

and here's the money shot:

Faces of Evil #2- Red Spider Mites >:(

Red Spider Mites: The Enemy.

Although these things are hard to see with the naked eye (but they are visible if you look close!) these things are my number one enemy. They are a menace and they drive me nuts. In order to conquer these, you must know them. Know their habits, know their environment, know where they come from. Know them. Be them. KILL them... in five easy steps.

Without chemicals or pesticides

These jerk-faces are a big problem to patio/balcony growers for many reasons.
-There is little space, so plants are often crowded.
-There is little natural humidity (esp if you are above ground level) due to the absence of a soil bed that can trap in a lot of moisture for all day timed release action.
-Because of the arid conditions, there is a small presence of beneficial bugs such as ladybugs and praying mantises.
-There might be another amateur gardener somewhere near you who doesn't take good care of his/her own infested plants and the creepies float on in by the wind currents.

The Spider Mite

(about 1,000x actual size, artist's exaggerated rendering)

-Very small tiny spider like creatures that make webs and suck the nutrients out of plants
-Loves dry climates
-Loathes wet things and humidity
-Is an equal opportunity plant eater/killer
-Is terrified of ladybugs

What to look for

-Webbing with little reddish spots that move around.
-White spots covering leaf
-Some wilting

How to kill them

Ok, so I know that a lot of people don't have much time. Don't worry. Depending on the level of infestation, it shouldn't take you over an hour.

If you have a potted plant, take them to the sink and wash them off. But if you have your plants growing in a heavy box with other plants, it will be a little more complicated. Especially if you live in an apartment with no garden hose available.

1. Get rid of the webs. Use a piece of toilet paper, Q-tip, napkin, stick, or anything. A lot of the little jerks will be on the webbings, so if you get rid of the webs, you get rid of them.

2. Dampen a Q-tip and get rid of all the other Spider Mites on the plants. Try a big bowl of water with 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid. That's what I used. A very mild solution of soapy water.

Don't forget the nooks and crannies. The idea is to get rid of ALL the spider mites.

Look how disgusting this is.

3.Cut off the leaves that can't be saved.

Why waste a plant's energy storage on leaves that have no hope? Cut off the ones that can't be saved. But don't go crazy and cut off all the leaves.

4. Use that big bowl of soapy water and give your plant a good bath. This will leave a nice damp surface that Spider Mites hate. This will also get rid of any stubborn mites that you've missed.

5. My favorite step: Dump the water in the sink.

The bowl of soapy water will probably be a little brownish due to all the spider mites that are drowning in it. You can turn on the garbage disposal for added effect.

If you have really good hearing, the spider mites' dissension will be audible. Just shoot some expletives back at them. Don't worry. At this point there is no way they can beat you up.

Tomorrow, and every other extremely hot&dry day after that, spritz the plants with plain old water. Don't forget, most leaves like water too. This will also discourage new mites from coming back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Amazing Things Are Afoot! Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

These people take themselves very seriously. They've been around since 1997. I hope they don't just throw away the carvings. That would be a shame.

Please visit their website by clicking here.
This website features many sound clips, photos of their instruments, and an intensive FAQ section.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Attack of the Clones! When Plants Propagate THEMSELVES!

When people think of clones they often think of weird freak mutations a la that dumb Michael Keaton comedy from way back when.
But this is not always the case. Sometimes these "freaks" become way better than the originals:

But in the plant world, clones are exactly the same as it's mother. The DNA of a plant clone is a carbon copy (exact replica) from the plant it came from.

This post is about plants that clone and propagate themselves. Awesome. Here is a list of all the self-cloning plants I have. There are far more different kinds of plants that clone themselves, cacti being the most well known self-cloner. Sansevieria plants have leaves that will self root in a sandy soil. Begonia leaves also do the trick.

The reason why I'm amazed by these plants is because they do all the work. They produce, sever, and root themselves with no chemicals, no cutting, no nothing.

Aeonium Arboreum



This little guy started growing from the trunk. It developed aerial roots, fell off, and started growing.


The genus Kalanchoe is actually known for it's cloning. Is it a surprise that I have 2 different examples of Kalanchoe? Two examples of Kalanchoe Crassulaceae to be exact.




What I love about this plant is it's beautiful scalloped leaves. There are touches of pink, red, and orange. These leaves also drop themselves and form little clones!




I have never seen a more prolific plant in my life. This thing copy&pastes itself faster than a highschool plagiarist on Wikipedia.

I know there are so many other plants that clone themselves, such as the pineapple plant Ananas Bromeliaceae (When you eat a pineapple, you actually eat the clone), the spider plant, and many others.

Do you know of any? Send me some pictures and I'll post them up.

Monday, August 13, 2007

dear cucumber, I will eat you.

Taste test number 1.

Actually, it's really taste test number two because we already sampled our cherry tomato and our yellow E.Fong tomato. But anyway,

Remember the cucumber that kind of puffed up and never puffed out? It was our semi-deflated animal balloon until we were sick of waiting for it to fully develop. I mean, we waited for like 2 months. So while making coleslaw tortas, I asked Ryan to go ahead and bring it.

And he brought it.

Yes, good cucumber. We're ready to eat you.

At this point, I sliced off two pieces and gave Ryan one. We had been waiting for such a long time, we regarded this little cucumber as if it was our own crunchy baby.

We have no photos documenting the precise moment of eating. Ryan had the camera ready, but once I raised my slice to my mouth, Ryan was overcome by a wave of jealousy because he didn't want me to enjoy the cucumber without him. He wanted to be the first to try.

Everything then became a big struggle, things knocking over the countertops as we each tried to hinder the other while trying to consume our own.

At some point, I don't know how, but we each happened to get a taste at the very same time. We stared at each other crunching and then it hit us.

The cucumber was nasty as hell.

Bad, Cucumber, BAD! But it was no use. No amount of screaming and chastising could relieve the bitter taste of betrayal in our mouths.